Talking about the NCAA basketball tournament can sometimes sound like a
conversation about gardening. Like gardens, the tournament includes pods and
seeds. Seeds refer to the placement of a team in one of four regions, and
pods refer to the method of grouping seeds at particular first-round and
second-round sites. The same committee that selects teams for the tournament
also decides how teams are seeded and where they play.
As you learned earlier, the field of 64 teams is divided into four
geographical regions. Each region has teams that are assigned a seed number of 1
through 16, with the best team in the region awarded the 1 seed. One region of
the men's tournament actually includes 17 teams, with the two lowest-ranked
teams playing an opening-round game to gain the No. 16 seed in that region.
Traditionally, the highest seeds (1 through 8) have enjoyed more success than
the lower seeds (9 through 16). The lower seeds represent potential "Cinderellas"
of the tournament. A Cinderella team is a team that unexpectedly achieves
success in the tournament. Traditionally, Cinderella's chariot turns back into a
pumpkin before getting to the Final Four.